Conference Call: Haley Swindal and Jana Robbins: "We Just Move On! The Songs of Kander & Ebb" at Feinstein's/54 Below
I had such a fun time interviewing Jana Robbins and Haley Swindal at Feinstein's/54 Below press event last week! We went to the cabaret and discussed their upcoming show We Just Move On! The Songs of Kander & Ebb. From Broadway dreams to keeping secrets, Haley and Jana covered it all!
We Just Move On! The Songs of Kander & Ebb will be an evening containing some of Kander & Ebb’s best known songs such as “Maybe This Time,” “How Lucky Can You Get,” “Life Is,” “A Quiet Thing,” “All That Jazz,” and more, while telling the story of their hopes, their dreams, their challenges, and their successes – on stage and off.
We Just Move On! The Songs of Kander & Ebb will play Feinstein's/54 Below on August 30 at 9:30pm and September 6 at 7pm. Click here for tickets!
For more on Haley follow her on Twitter!
1. We are here at Feinstein’s/54 Below with Haley Swindell and Jana Robbins who’s show We Just Move On! The Songs of Kander & Ebb will be premiering on August 30 at 9:30pm and September 6 at 7pm. How did you come to do this show?
Haley Swindal: We are both currently in the Off-Broadway show This One's For the Girls, which has been running almost a year now. Early on in rehearsals, I loved Jana and thought she was absolutely fantastic shepherding our show and I kind of wanted to do a show with her and I said to Jana, "We should do The Rink."
Jana Robbins: At that point, I had heard of The Rink, and I certainly knew it was a Kander & Ebb show. And I knew who was in it, but I actually didn't know the storyline. I asked Haley to explain the storyline to me....which is about a mother and daughter....and I thought it would be really exciting to do that together, but suggested that before we venture to do the show, why don't we just sing some of those songs at Feinstein's/54 Below at some point to really see if the songs suited us. Right after we talked about that, we found out that Feinstein's/54 Below was doing a duo's series and I was invited to do another Kander & Ebb tribute show show as well, and we realized we had also both played "Sally Bowles" in different productions of Cabaret and I had done "The Leader" in Zorba and it all just seemed to fit.
2. Since you both have played "Sally Bowles" in Cabaret, was there something you thought about during the song "Don't Tell Mama" that maybe you did growing up that you didn't want your mother to find out?
Jana Robbins: I can't say that online, but there was plenty I wasn't telling mama at the age I was playing "Sally Bowles."
Haley Swindal: I will tell you that recently I posted something on my Facebook page at like 2 in the morning like "Doesn't have an inkling that I'm working in a night club wearing in a pair of lacey pants" and the next day my mom got all these concerned phone calls from her friends saying, "I think your daughter is a stripper." And I was like, "No, no, no, it's a line from Cabaret, I'm not a stripper, I promise."
3. What do you two love about performing together?
Jana Robbins: It's interesting, even in This One's For the Girls, somehow, and I don't really know why, every single time two characters are on stage together, it's always Haley & me. There's an affinity towards one another. I think there is a similar style, a similar strength, and a similar passion between us.
Haley Swindal: I have always admired Jana. She has incredible strength and vulnerability, not just in her voice, and that is just this compelling combination. I'm just drawn into her both on stage and in life.
4. What song did you know right away you just had to put in the show?
Jana Robbins: Well, it's funny, I think many of the songs people think we are going to sing aren't in the show. I would say to start, I knew that I was going to do "Life Is" because I played "The Leader" in Zorba. I knew we both were going to sing something that "Sally" sang and I knew we were going to sing songs from The Rink. After that, it was all chosen because the actual show follows the lives of two women coming to New York at different times with a dream of having a life in the theater and accomplishing that and then fulfilling ourselves as women. That story is what dictated the flow and choice of each song.
5. Now you two are women who have fulfilled your dream of working in the theatre. You are both mothers, Jana, you are a grandmother as well, so what is like to think back to when you were little girls dreaming of your life in entertainment, what is it actually like to be here living it?
Jana Robbins: It is so different from the actual dream. I don't know if you know this Adam, but I am also a Broadway producer and it never entered my mind early in life that I would be a Broadway producer, that I would also be a teacher and director. I'm divorced, interestingly enough, that will show itself in the show. So it was a challenge, trying to have it all. But I am so satisfied and fulfilled by this life....that even though, in many ways, I didn't accomplish what I thought I was going to do, this life in the theater has been a totally fulfilling experience and I still love it.
Haley Swindal: For me, when I graduated college, I was all, blinders on, I'm going to get to Broadway. But I remember walking home from my first preview on Broadway and I was tearing up because I was like this is wonderful, this is all I ever wanted, but I don't have anyone to share it with and I need to build this aspect of my life, whatever this aspect is. Now I have this incredible daughter who's two years old and she is the light of my life. I didn't realize you could have the career and the other thing.
We unfortunately had to wrap up our interview up, so many more stories will be shared in We Just Move On! The Songs of Kander and Ebb on August 30 at 9:30pm and September 6 at 7pm at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street). Click here fort tickets!
More on Jana:
Jana Robbins has played leading roles on Broadway in Good News, I Love My Wife, Crimes of the Heart, Gypsy (as the ‘bump it with the trumpet’ stripper "Mazeppa" while covering Tyne Daly as "Rose") and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife (covering both Linda Lavin & Michele Lee and starring opposite Valerie Harper in the national tour). Recent regional credits include "Drowsy" in The Drowsy Chaperone and "Maxine" in Managing Maxine commissioned by the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. TV & film credits include The Good Wife, Cheers, Nurse Jackie and The Women with Eva Mendez, Meg Ryan & Annette Bening. Broadway producing credits include Little Women and the revival of Ragtime as well as a financial stake in War Horse and Something Rotten! (currently on national tour). Off-Broadway includes I Love You Because, Through the Night and White’s Lies. Shows currently in development are Roof of the World, The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit and The Jazz Age slated for London this spring. Jana is the recipient of JNF’s Tree of Life Award and performs her one-woman show Jana Robbins: I’m Still Here across the country.
More on Haley:
Haley appeared in Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway, The Secret Garden at Lincoln Center, and the national tours of White Christmas, Jesus Christ Superstar and I Love a Piano. Other recent credits include "Lady of the Lake" in Spamalot at NSMT, "Nellie Forbush" in South Pacific at WBT and "Grace Farrell" in Annie with Sally Struthers at TOTS. Haley has sung at Carnegie Hall alongside jazz great Steve Tyrell, with Ronan Tynan at Yankee Stadium and under the baton of Steve Reineke with the New York Pops Orchestra. Haley’s solo show Golden Girl recently sold out Feinstein's/54 Below. She recently appeared in Sistas Off-Broadway.